When cooking at high heat — stir frying, pan searing, deep frying — it's important to use a fat with a high smoke point, and ideally with a clean, neutral taste that lets the flavor of your food shine. Enter rice bran oil. While it can be used for drizzling and other cooking applications, rice bran oil is particularly useful for high-heat cooking. In our kitchen, we reach for rice bran oil when stir frying and sautéing. We've seen its smoke point listed from 415°F to 490°F and even higher, making it comparable to, or possibly better than, other vegetable oils like peanut and canola.The flavor and texture are light and clean, so it doesn't overpower the food.
Rice bran oil is extracted from the germ and inner husk, a byproduct of converting brown rice into white rice. It's high in antioxidants and low in saturated fat. There are a lot of health claims being made about rice bran oil, some of which may be overzealous. Studies have shown, however, that it may help lower cholesterol. We still use olive oil in most of our cooking, but for high heat, rice bran oil seems like a good choice.
It's most often available at Asian markets, as well as health food stores and online.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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